Living with Ménière’s Disease

Never heard of it? Neither had I 18 months ago, it is a “silent” disease. Now it’s a daily presence in my life.

The Ménière’s Society ( describes it as “a long term, progressive condition affecting the balance and hearing parts of the inner ear. Symptoms are acute attacks of vertigo (severe dizziness), fluctuating tinnitus, increasing deafness, and a feeling of pressure in the ear. The incidence is between 1:1000 and 1:2000 of the population; depending on the source. Both sexes are equally affected and it can occur at any age. About 7-10% of sufferers have a family history of the disease.”

  • Ever been swimming and had the feeling you have water in your ear you can’t shake? That’s what I have every day. Some days it’s so bad it feels like my head is leaning to one side with the weight.
  • Ever got up from sitting down and felt dizzy? Had one too many drinks and the room wobbles? In the midst of an attack that’s what it feels like permanently. Add to that a hangover style headache and you’re there.
  • Had ringing in the ear when you’ve had your MP3 player too loud? Yep once again pretty much every day, varying degrees depending on where in the cycle I am. Sometimes so bad I want to claw my ear off. Thank god for audio books at night to distract me! Ménière’s causes damage to the hair receptors in the inner ear.
  • Increasing deafness. I am that annoying person who says “Pardon” pretty much at least once a conversation. See me turning my head so my left side is facing you? That’s because the right has a “moderate to severe hearing loss” It is believed this is caused by an increase in pressure in the endolymphatic space.

No-one knows what causes it.  Mine came on suddenly.  I had been feeling a bit dizzy on and off for a few days. Suddenly I was sat at my desk and felt sick, next thing I knew I couldn’t even lift my head off the toilet seat or even open my eyes I was that dizzy.  Work ended up calling an ambulance as I couldn’t move. *Embarrasing*

It took me 18 months from that day to get a diagnosis with attacks averaging every couple of months.

Symptoms vary for each sufferer. The main symptoms are unpredictable attacks of vertigo with nausea and vomiting. Attacks can last from a few minutes to 24 hours. There may also be tinnitus, hearing loss and a feeling of fullness in the affected ear.  Usually only one ear is affected (in my case the right), but up to 50% of sufferers may develop the condition in both ears.

My symptoms are a feeling of pressure in my ear which steadily gets worse, along with “louder” tinnitus. Followed by increasing dizzy spells finally culminating in a severe headache and not being able to walk in a straight line.  Strangely once I vomit the symptoms abate within hours.

There is no known cure for Ménière’s. I have anit-vertigo and “travel sickness” tablets that I carry round with me permanently. The hearing loss is too far gone in my case so inevitably I will end up with a hearing aid.  When I was first told this I had visions of the massive hearing aids that you used to see elderly men wear, but I am reliably informed they are a lot smaller now!



For more information on Ménière’s contact the Ménière’s Society

Hearing aid picture from




Feature – Millfield Autos

I would think it’s pretty safe to say that most car owners in Peterborough have at one time or another popped into Millfield Autos. A veritable treasure trove for amateur mechanics and car geeks.

photo 1 (1)

The History behind the store 

Husseinaly Jessa Damani set up the store along with his two brothers Hassan and Hyder in 1985. They are still in the original building nearly 30 years later. Sadly in 2010 General Manager Husseinaly Jessa Damani passed away, as a recognition of his legacy his family was presented with the Pride of Peterborough Award in 2012.

They are now an established retailer offering a wide selection of car parts and accessories throughout Cambridgeshire. They also offer delivery to over 1500 garages in the greater Peterborough area going as far as Spalding, Huntingdon and Godmanchester.

With over 1,200 likes on Facebook and 360+ followers on Twitter, MAP are using social media to it’s full potential in engaging with customers.

Currently over 700 retail customers are signed up to the website to receive personalised emails which are used to send out in store offers and info. They also receive up to 12 different vouchers to be used in store.

They have also created their own winter checklist for customers who want to ensure they are safe in winter. The downloadable PDF can be found here

Guest Post – When Mumsnet Norfolk Local met Emma Healey

Reblogged with the kind permission of Nicola Miller, Editor of Mumsnet Norfolk.


The book the whole country will be reading this summer – and it’s written by a Norfolk author

First-time novelist Emma Healey was courted with tinned peaches and forget-me-nots when her book sparked a bidding war, took her first careers advice from the film Clueless, and has fallen in love with Norwich.

Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is missing. Picture: Martin Figura
Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is missing. Picture: Martin Figura

Nine publishers vied for Emma Healey’s first novel and next week the national launch of the book, already being hailed a masterpiece, takes place in Norwich.

Emma always assumed she would have to beg publishers to take her book but instead looked on, bemused, as they competed for her attention.

Publishers wooed her by staging elaborate meetings, based around the themes of Elizabeth Is Missing.

Penguin, which eventually won the right to publish the book, gave her hand-written notes from staff at all levels of the business who had loved the book. Another publisher sent her an old-fashioned suitcase packed with some of the possessions and passions, ranging from pearls to tinned peaches, of her heroine Maud. Then there was the meeting she arrived at, to find Maud’s favourite music being played, missing woman posters all over the building directing her to a room full of forget-me-nots. “I was nearly in tears,” admitted Emma.

Elizabeth Is Missing has already been sold and translated around the world and has just been voted pick of the month by library staff across the USA.

It tells the story of an elderly woman whose friend vanishes. Maud sets out to solve the mystery of her missing friend, while battling her own dementia, and discovers unsettling parallels with the disappearance of her sister, half a century earlier.

Emma is just 29, but her ability to write with the voice of an old woman whose mind is being destroyed by dementia has been hailed as astounding and likened to Mark Haddon’s portrayal of an autistic boy in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

“It’s incredibly flattering,” said Emma. “Reading him helped me realise you could write a mystery without having a detective.”

When we meet, in a Norwich café, the first thing she notices is how our window table will be wonderful for people watching when she is old. So does she have a particular affinity with much older people?

She says some of the inspiration for the book came from her grandmothers.

One is severely affected by dementia, the other had always been good at telling stories and anecdotes. Emma wrote down the stories, both to have something to remember her grandmother by, and as something to talk about when she visited her in hospital as she lay dying.

Her other grandmother no longer knows who Emma is, but was able to read an early draft of part of the book. “She said she didn’t like it because it was too real,” said Emma, who took the criticism as an indication that the novel was beginning to work.

Emma also scoured manuals about caring for people with dementia and admitted: “I even went with a friend to visit a relative once and sat taking notes. Isn’t that awful?!”

Self-deprecating, friendly and funny, Emma still seems shocked by the runaway success of Elizabeth is Missing.

She was working as a web administrator at the University of East Anglia when the fairytale began.

She had been writing since childhood but never saw it as a career option.

“I told people that I was going to be a litigator. I really had very little idea of what a litigator was, but I had heard the term in Clueless. The dad was a litigator and it seemed like a proper grown-up job!” said Emma.

In fact she left school at 16 with very few qualifications and went on to art school, where she studied for degree in book art which included crafts such as bookbinding and embossing. “But I was terrible at that too!” she said.

She found a job in marketing, but continued writing in secret and applied to do a creative writing course at the University of East Anglia.

“I didn’t admit to having any aspirations because it was hugely embarrassing,” said Emma. “I felt like it was a dirty secret that I was going home and writing things. I would say I was going to do an MA and hope they wouldn’t ask about the subject!

“It’s like saying you want to be a pop star, or astronaut. You’re supposed to grow out of it! Plenty of people say ‘I’m writing a book.’ I didn’t want to be that person.”

She found her voice alongside her character, Maud. “Until then everything seemed to be about a woman in her 20s living in London and it was so boring! I didn’t want to read it myself, so why anyone else would…!”

“I thought writing about dementia would be cathartic and imagined that if I knew enough about it, it would become less scary, but now I’m absolutely terrified of my parents getting it.”

So has she discovered anything positive about old age?

“Maybe you can get away with bad behaviour a bit, but although I don’t want to be depressing about it, not really. I look forward to a time when you are not constantly thinking about the way you look, but maybe you still are…”

She is discovering that being a successful writer demands an unsettling mix of being intensely solitary and hugely gregarious, of meticulous planning and unimagined chains of events.

To keep track of the many strands of a mystery straddling half a century, being investigated by a heroine with a disintegrating personality, meant her Norwich home was strewn with plans and maps of her imagined house and town. She used different fonts for each period and character, to keep track of the many voices.

And as the book took shape she submitted parts of it as her MA dissertation. It was put forward for an award and a literary agent involved in the judging process asked to see it when it was finished. It was sold in Canada before it even had a title.

Since then Elizabeth is Missing has been sold to 20 countries including China, Brazil and Turkey and translated into 18 languages. Television rights have been snapped up and the American deal included Emma’s second book too, which is something of a problem looming beyond the whirlwind of launches and interviews, tours and signings.

“It’s not even started. It’s a seriously vague idea in my head!” admitted Emma.

The UK launch of Elizabeth is Missing is in the Norwich branch of Waterstones on Tuesday, June 3.

Emma has fallen in love with her adopted home city. “Norwich is where the book really became what it is,” she said. “It’s so nice. How can one ever leave? It’s such a great place. I was such a London-centric person I didn’t leave London to live until I was 25 and I came here and it was like ‘Oh this is why people don’t live in London!’ Norwich is amazing. It’s busy enough. It’s just hipster enough. You can get good coffee and there are interesting shops but it’s not unbalanced. You don’t feel it’s too studenty or too local. And there are about a million writers in Norwich so it’s not difficult to find other writers to talk to.”

Having found Norwich, she is slightly reluctant to leave.

“You know that bit when you get back from a holiday and think ‘that was lovely’ that’s my favourite moment. Most of the time I’m actually away I’m anxious!” said Emma. “I’m quite nervous about it all – and scared I’m going to swear in a television interview!”

Emma has another reason for launching the book in Norwich’s Waterstones. She not only had part-time jobs in branches in both London and Norwich but also met her boyfriend, a fellow UEA student, in Norwich’s Royal Arcade.

“He was a history student. I was a Christmas temp.” Now the store is a Jamie’s restaurant and the couple returned for an anniversary dinner.

“I never ever said I was writing when I worked there, but I did use to daydream about where on the shelf my book would go!”

What did not cross her mind was that her book would be destined for a place among the best sellers!

• Elizabeth is Missing is being published by Penguin and the UK edition will be launched at Waterstones in Norwich on Tuesday, June 3 at 7.30pm. The free event includes refreshments and the opportunity to buy a signed copy of Elizabeth is Missing – recommended retail price £12.99.

• Emma will also be appearing in the book department at Jarrold in Norwich on Tuesday, June 17 at 6pm. Tickets are £3, including a glass of wine, with £3 redeemable off purchases of her book.

This first appeared in the Eastern Daily Press on May 27th 2014.

Review – Persil Cook with the Kids

As a busy family we are always on the look out for time saving hints and tips. Anything that makes my life easier is always welcome.  To that end Persil have launched a new harder working formula washing up liquid.  According to them it’s been “rigorously tested and scientifically proven so that for every bottle used, you can get an extra 1,400 plates sparkling clean. In the long run, not only will you be spending less money on washing-up, but thanks to the new proven, powerful and harder-working formula, you’ll also be spending less time. You’ve got enough on your plate to have to worry about cleaning plates, pot and pans. Put Persil to the test and the results will be sparkling.”

I was sent two bottles of the new formulation Persil washing up liquid with the task to get baking with T and not to worry about the mess.


Challenge accepted!  We signed up to the website watched the video downloaded the pack and off we went.

I received these just before Easter so of course our first baking session had to be Egg Nests. Now normally when we do these I only have to do a quick wash of all the cooking materials as lets face it, there isn’t going to be much melted chocolate left on anything. But in the interests of giving it a good test I left all the spoons and bowls with chocolate on.

The sacrifices I have to make………..

I decided to do white and milk chocolate to see if that made a difference (and because white chocolate cornflake cakes are to die for).

As I am ever so slightly lazy and melt the chocolate in the microwave, I had to wash the jug in between the chocolates.


I used one squeeze in the jug and hot water and gave it a wipe round with a cloth. As I would expect the chocolate came off easily and I didn’t need to put a lot of elbow grease in.

Normally I would be chasing after T with a cloth catching (eating) drips and smudges but this time I went with the flow.

20140419_152050  20140419_15185820140419_152410

I also decided to leave the bowls a while to let the chocolate harden to see how easily it would clean (the only time this has ever happened.

A quick squeeze, some hot water and a light scrub and the bowls were clean.  As an aside the smell of the orange Persil and the chocolate together was yummy!

The download pack from Persil contains ten tips for cooking with kids, some fun recipes and activities for the kids. Worth a look at for new ideas. It also kept T occupied and saved me from the incessant “Can we eat them yet Mummy?”

On a slight tangent I begrudge paying silly money for dishwasher tablets and have been known to use Starburst in my dishwasher in the week running up to pay day when I have run out.  I thought I would give the Persil a try, one squeeze into the tablet compartment and the dishes were just as clean, if not more clean than the Starburst.  Another handy tip I’ve picked up there.  I don’t know if Persil advise to use it in dishwashers but I’m sticking with it. Just don’t do what a “friend” did and put an extra squirt in the bottom of the machine, apparently that then gives you a nice lot of bubbles over your kitchen floor.  So I’m told…….

*I was sent two bottles of Persil for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


App review – Brian Cox’s Wonder of Life

Disclaimer – I may have a slight crush on Brian Cox. I even have a signed copy of “Wonders of the Universe” that I won in a competition.  I have always been a big Star Trek, space, astronomy fan even when I was a kid. I was that 8 year old who wrote to Nasa to enquire about becoming an astronaut, (they replied and sent me a pack on the latest STS mission, I still have it..) My “chosen” Mastermind subject was at one time “Episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation” I could tell you the name of the episode from the first 60 seconds of dialogue.

So we are clear on what type of nerd I am yes?

When I saw the opportunity to review the Wonders of Life app from the said professor I was all over it. Here’s a quick video to explain

(The app is designed for iOS7 so if you don’t have that you will need to upgrade in order to get all the features.)

Brian Cox App2

Designed as a follow up to the Wonders of the Universe, this app has been made in conjunction with the BBC and will see the Prof lead you on a 3D tour of the Earth’s most disparate climates and creatures.

Brian Cox App3

The app offers over 30 beautifully crafted creatures and habitats to explore. There are also over 80 articles delving into the intricacies of the natural world and the laws which bind it. It also includes over 2 hours of HD footage from the series and 30+ locations.

So there’s the spiel, what about the app itself?

The app opens with an amazing video of the Earth in space (nerd coming out again)

Photo 06-05-2014 19 22 53Photo 06-05-2014 19 25 44

You can currently choose to delve into either North America, Africa, Australasia, Sensory, Microscopic or Elements Processes.

Each category has lots of different things inside to watch or read. It almost reminds me of Encarta (showing my age there) in that it’s very easy to start looking at one thing and then before you know it you’ve been sat there an hour with a very numb bottom and a cold cup of tea.

It’s a bit too advanced for my four year old but then I don’t think she is the target audience for this. It is however very easy to navigate around, (just pinch and zoom to grasp the magnitude of the Earth and our place within it) press the rocket symbol at the top of the screen and you’re back to the title menu and can choose something else. She does enjoy sitting with me and looking through it though, the videos and pictures are of exceptional quality and this is definately an app that we can use as she grows and learns.

The app costs £4.99 which is a little on the expensive side but with updates I can see this being an app that is never deleted off my homepage. The app along with it’s predecessor Wonders of the Universe can be found in the iTunes Store.

*I was sent a code to download this app for review purposes but all opinions are my own*





Feature – Peterborough Voices

If someone says the word “Choir” to me I am transported back in time to my school days, stood on a bench at the back singing “Water of Life” and “Sing Hosannah”.  Celine Dion I am not.

So when I was invited to the Housewarming Party of Peterborough Voices, the women’s choir, at their new home of Broadway Theatre, I’ll admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised. Starting with a rendition of “Moon River”, they moved onto “Wind Beneath My Wings” (one of my favourite songs ever) which actually made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Finishing with “The Trolley Song” which I had heard before but never actually realised what the name was.

We were then treated to two songs by Peterborough Youth Choir which was enchanting, finishing with an impressive song from the Peterborough Male Voice Choir.

Peterborough Voices were formed in 2011 after the “Sing for Life” project, where PMVC were asked to help set up a women’s choir.  Hoping to originally recruit 40 women to perform at a concert for Cancer Research, 220 applicants turned up at the auditions.  120 women sang at the concert with the late Bernie Nolan and afterwards wanted to continue singing together. Peterborough Voices was born!


Directed by William Prideaux (who I couldn’t stop watching, it fascinates me directing and conducting) they are now preparing for their latest show “Saturday Night at the Movies” on Saturday 5th July at the Broadway Theatre.


All three choirs, accompanied by the 46-piece Peterborough Festival Orchestra will be performing a salute to Hollywood’s greatest composers, with music from Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, James Bond and many more.  If the songs are anything like the taster from the Housewarming Party then this promises to be an amazing night.


They are also starting “Sing for Life” from scratch in June. 40 women are wanted of all ages and experience to sing in the charity concert in aid of Sue Ryder’s Hospice appeal. Check out the website for further details.

Pictures courtesy of Peterborough Sings! website


Vivacity Archives wins Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future programme bid

Exciting news arrived in my inbox this week from Vivacity Archives.

Vivacity Archives is delighted to announce it is part of a partnership scheme that will benefit from a shared £1m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under its Skills for the Future programme. This enables the Vivacity Archives department to offer fully-funded trainee posts from 2014-15 and 2016-17.

The overall scheme was organised by The National Archives, who received the grant of nearly £1m from the HLF. Vivacity is delighted to have been selected as one of the partners in the scheme.

Each traineeship at Vivacity Archives will run for a year, and in the first instance trainees will be helping to run a project involving local people cataloguing the historic records of the Soke of Peterborough Council dating from the Victorian period.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for someone who is interested in a career in archives, museums or heritage to get hands-on work experience for a year,” explains Richard Hunt, Vivacity Archives Manager. “Our project will unlock one of the most important archive collections relating to the growth of Peterborough in the Victorian period.”

For more information about Vivacity Archives, call 01733 864 160 or email For further details visit To find out more about The National Archives take a look at


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